Ground Source Heat Pump & Solar Thermal at Weller School

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Andy Roe, a civil contractor in Fairbanks, installed the ground loop at Weller Elementary School for a heat pump project. Here he talks about how ground source heat pumps work, and about the benefits they can provide.


Ground source heat pumps are a common technology in the Lower 48 but are relatively new to Alaska. Heat pumps harvest warmth from the ground to heat a building. We have much to learn about how well they work in cold climates and the impact they will have on things like permafrost.
CCHRC monitored a ground source heat pump installed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District at Weller Elementary School.  The experimental project tested how the technology works in a large building with a high heating demand. It is a hybrid, or combined, system because it integrates a heat pump with solar thermal panels. Because the heat pump extracts warmth from the ground during the year, it poses the risk of creating more permafrost and depleting the heat source.
To compensate, CCHRC added solar panels to the school’s roof to restore heat to the ground. The panels contain tubes filled with a fluid that absorbs heat from the sun. The tubes deposit the heat back to the ground area where we are taking it.

To learn more about this project, click here.

Weller Schematic





Thermal Storage Demonstration at CCHRC We're using a massive tank of water to store energy from the sun. Click here for live data!
Three-Stage HRV Evaluation This project looked at the effectiveness of various frost protection strategies and their effect on energy efficiency and indoor air quality.
Air Source Heat Pumps in Southeast Alaska ASHPs take heat from the outdoor air and use electricity to raise the temperature. Because they require less electricity than electric heating appliances, heat pumps could reduce heating costs for Southeast residents.
Ground Source Heat Pump Demonstration at CCHRC Long-term test of a ground source heat pump at CCHRC's facility in Fairbanks to study performance in cold soils.